Lisbon—Algarve day 1

Saturday 6 July 2013

On our final day in Lisbon we took leave of our host, André. He bought us a small bag of treats from the pastelería. We walked out of the Alfama to the nearest metro station. We had little time to spare by the time we arrived at the bus station. As we travelled south through Portugal, the highway cut through low, undulating hills covered with straw-coloured grass and short, olive-green trees. Although the latter looked nothing like Australian wattles or eucalypts, the arid terrain and the colours were reminiscent of the Monaro plains near Canberra where Susie and I both grew up.

As soon as we pulled into the dismal bus station in Faro, we bought two tickets for the next leg of our journey to Seville.  We then caught a metro bus to Faro airport where we replenished our drug supply (i.e. paracetamol, pseudoephedrine and a medicated nasal spray) and then collected a hire-car from the Europcar office. This was not as flash as our last vehicle: it was a Fiat Punto with a diminutive stop-start engine. It was in excellent condition, however, and—crucially—it had air-conditioning.

I drove from Faro to Farragudo guided by our trusty Tom-Tom and supplementary advice from Susie. Our accommodation proved difficult to pinpoint, however. The GPS took us to a place on the coast that we knew was incorrect. We triangulated the various information sources that we had, and eventually drove up a short dirt track between some sprawling trees to A Casinha—a diminutive, white cottage with an outside terrace and a view of the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean sea.  This was to be our home for the next four nights, and it was to be the most secluded and tranquil of all of our stops on our journey through Iberia.

After we had unpacked, we went shopping at the Lidl supermarket just north of Ferragudo to stock up on supplies. We then drove on to Portimão to meet our daughter, Ruby, for our third and final happy reunion during our European holiday. In a flurry of Facebook messages the previous day, I had arranged to meet her outside the Café Inglesa in the main square of town at 8:15 p.m.

It was one of those days when things go unexpectedly according to plan. We secured a parking space close to the plaza, and Ruby appeared just as we arrived at the café. She thought she was an hour late, but she had forgotten to put her watch back after she had left Seville, so in fact she was right on time. We promptly drove her to our secluded beach shack where I cooked a vegetarian pasta dinner; she told us about her adventures in Morocco, and we filled her in on our adventures in Portugal.

The patio, A Casinha

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